ESCountdown 2019: #19 – “Bigger Than Us” by Michael Rice, United Kingdom

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IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN! Welcome to my ESCountdown 2019, presented by eCinemaOne, The Kirkham Report, and Planet BiblioMusica! Between April 7 and May 10, I will countdown my picks of the entries in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019! There are 41 countries participating this year, and we’ll bring you each and every entry from them all!

Last year, when we first launched our ESC coverage, I did the songs in random order. This year, I’m changing things up a bit. Due to copyright issues with the way I did my TKR videos on YouTube, my ESC show last year never made it to public consumption. So this year, rather than just cover the songs, I’m bringing you all the info on each song this year ranked in order of my personal preference from bottom to top. I’ll give the reasons for my personal rankings, and some background info on the song, artist, songwriters, and such.  Again, these are MY opinions, and I realize that the ESC fan community is a rabid one, and rarely everyone agrees with everyone else, so as they say, your mileage may vary.

In at #19 on my countdown this year is the official entry from the United Kingdom, “Bigger Than Us” by Michael Rice, written by Laurell Barker, Anna-Khara Folin, Jonas Thander, and John Lundvik (who is himself a competitor this season, see my #30 song). The song is performed in English. As one of the “Big Five”, the UK has an automatic ‘bye’ to the Grand Final on May 18.

21-year-old Rice first came to the attention of the UK during season 11 of “The X Factor” where he got cut in the “boot camp” round (more proof that some people have no taste whatsoever – I’m talking to YOU, UK X Factor judges…). He bounced back in 2018 where he won the first season of BBC One‘s new singing competition “All Together Now“.

Without a doubt, this is the BEST song the UK has sent to EuroVision in damn near a DECADE, hands down. Although “Storm” by SuRie, their 2018 entry, was nice enough, it lacked punch in so many ways, most notably it’s bland music video. This song is FULL of punch in it’s lyrics, which basically says that you have no control over who you love, that it just happens and takes over. It has even more punch in the exquisitely done video, centered around a boy and girl in what looks to be junior high – they want to be friends, and maybe more, but can’t because the boy’s arrogant, bigoted asshole of a dad can’t get past the fact that the girl isn’t completely Caucasian (she looks as if she may have Asian or Pacific Islander heritage somewhere), and that she’s got a same-sex couple as (presumably) adoptive parents. Seriously, haven’t we MOVED ON from this kind of crap yet? It’s damn near TWO DECADES into the 21st century – it’s time to let go of these ridiculous hangups, don’t you think?

The UK have been one of the stalwarts of EuroVision almost since it’s inception. They debuted during the competition’s second year in 1957, and have been in 61 contests thus far, winning five times: with “Puppet On A String” by Sandie Shaw, 1967; “Boom Bang-A-Bang” by Lulu , 1969 (part of a four way winner’s tie also including Spain, The Netherlands, and France..and boy does EuroVision love its nonsense titles over the years); “Save Your Kisses For Me“, by The Brotherhood Of Man, 1976 (and one of only a handful of entries since 1975 to make the US charts in a major way, hitting #27 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the AC chart); “Making Your Mind Up” by Bucks Fizz, 1981 (one of those winners I just can’t figure out…); and “Love Shine A Light” by Katrina And The Waves, 1997. They have also finished in the runner-up position a whopping fifteen times over the years, more than double any other countries’ second place finishes. However, the UK’s EuroVision fortunes have had a serious downturn since 1999, which was the year that a rule was dropped requiring that songs had to be sung in each country’s predominate language (a rule that had been relaxed briefly before in 1974 and 1975, which is how ABBA and Teach In were able to perform in English those two years, and thus winning the competition; ABBA would have probably won anyway, Teach-In probably not). As most songs are now performed in English, the UK’s edge has slipped away a bit, finishing in the top ten only twice in the 21st century, in 2002 and 2009. It also hasn’t helped that the UK has fielded some truly inexplicable entries over the past 19 years, the weirdest of which was 2007’s entry, “Flying The Flag (For You)” by musical comedy act Scootch, a satirical swipe at the airline industry (?). Many of the songs this decade have been filler at best, but Rice might give them their best shot in ages for a top ten finish.

Here’s the awesome music video…enjoy…

Join eCinemaOne, The Kirkham Report, and Planet BiblioMusica each day through this year’s finals on May 18 – be sure to check each site, because some of the features will be exclusive to just one of the sites! My daily song countdown will appear on all three sites, with some additional material coming to both Planet BM and TKR in the days and weeks’  ahead. I missed a few days due to personal issues, so I’m playing catch-up now, and will have two or three entries per day with my #1 pick being revealed on Sunday May 12.

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Catch all the official EuroVision action at their official Website and on their official YouTube channel! And hopefully, we’ll get to see the finals again this year somewhere – American fans, with Logo dropping coverage this year, let’s let AXS know we want to see it become the American home of EuroVision!

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